The 2013 NYC Teen Author Festival

The 2013 NYC Teen Author Festival starts next week! That completely snuck up on me. The Teen Author Festival is one my favorite events every year. It’s a full week of readings, discussions, and signings featuring an always amazing lineup of big name and brand new YA authors. And this year, some of those new authors are my former New School classmates! The full schedule of events is posted below. I’m hoping to make it to at least a few, baby in tow.

Monday, March 18 (Mulberry Street Branch of the NYPL, 10 Jersey Street b/w Mulberry and Lafayette, 6-8):

I’ll Take You There: A Change of Scenery, A Change of Self

Description: In their recent books, each of these authors have plunged their teen characters into new places as a way of revealing their true selves. We’ll talk about this YA journey narrative – where it comes from, and what it can lead to.

Gayle Forman
Kristen-Paige Madonia
Bennett Madison
Jennifer E. Smith
Melissa Walker

moderator: David Levithan

Tuesday, March 19 (WORD Bookstore, 7-8:30, 126 Franklin St, Greenpoint):

The Only Way Out is Through: Engaging Truth through YA

Description: Pain. Confusion. Loss. Mistakes. Revelation. More mistakes. Recovery. One of the things that makes YA work is its desire to engage the messy truths of both adolescence and life in general. Here we talk about what it’s like to engage this messy truth, and how to craft it into a story with some kind of form.

Crissa Chappell
Tim Decker
Ellen Hopkins
Amy McNamara
Jessica Verdi

moderator: David Levithan

Wednesday. March 20 (42nd St NYPL, South Court room, 6-8):

Imagination: A Conversation

Description: It’s a given that authors’ minds are very strange, wonderful, twisted, illogical, inventive places. Here we talk to five rather imaginative authors about how they conjure the worlds in their books and the stories that they tell, along with glimpses of the strange and wonderful worlds they are creating at the present.

Holly Black
Lev Grossman
Michelle Hodkin
Alaya Johnson
Robin Wasserman

moderators: David Levithan and Chris Shoemaker

Thursday, March 21:
SOHO Teen night, 6-9pm (Books of Wonder, 18 W18th St)

Celebrate the launch of SOHO Teen, featuring readings by Jacquelyn Mitchard, Joy Preble, Margaux Froley, Elizabeth Kiem, Heather Terrell & Ricardo Cortés, and Lisa & Laura Roecker.

Friday March 22, Symposium (42nd Street NYPL, Berger Forum, 2nd floor, 2-6)

2:00 – Introduction

2:10-3:00: He Said, She Said

Description: Not to be too mysterious, but I will email these authors separately about what I’m thinking for this.

He:
Ted Goeglein
Gordon Korman
Lucas Klauss
Michael Northrop

She:
Susane Colasanti
E. Lockhart
Carolyn Mackler
Sarah Mlynowski
Leila Sales

moderator: David Levithan

3:00-4:00: Taking a Turn: YA Characters Dealing with Bad and Unexpected Choices

Description: In each of these authors’ novels, the main character’s life takes an unexpected twist. Sometimes this is because of a bad choice. Sometimes this is because of a secret revealed. And sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice at all, but rather a reaction. We’ll talk about following these characters as they make these choices – both good and bad. Will include brief readings illuminating these choices.

Caela Carter
Eireann Corrigan
Alissa Grosso
Terra Elan McVoy
Jacquelyn Mitchard
Elizabeth Scott
K. M. Walton

moderator: Aaron Hartzler

4:00-4:10: Break

4:10-4:40: That’s So Nineteenth Century

Description: A Conversation About Playing with 19th Century Archetypes in the 21st Century

Sharon Cameron
Leanna Renee Hieber
Stephanie Strohm
Suzanne Weyn

Moderator: Sarah Beth Durst

4:40-5:30: Alternate World vs. Imaginary World

Description: Of these authors, some have written stories involving alternate or parallel versions of our world, some have made up imaginary worlds for their characters, and still others have written books that do each. We’ll discuss the decision to either connect the world of a book to our world, or to take it out of the historical context of our world. How do each strategies help in telling story and developing character? Is one easier than the other? Is the stepping off point always reality, or can it sometimes be another fictional world?

Sarah Beth Durst
Jeff Hirsch
Emmy Laybourne
Lauren Miller
E. C. Myers
Diana Peterfreund
Mary Thompson

Moderator: Chris Shoemaker

Friday March 22, Barnes & Noble Reader’s Theater/Signing (Union Square B&N, 33 E 17th St, 7-8:30)

Eireann Corrigan
Elizabeth Eulberg
Jeff Hirsch
David Levithan
Rainbow Rowell
Nova Ren Suma

Saturday March 23, Symposium (42nd Street NYPL, Bergen Forum, 2nd Floor, 1-5)

1:00 – Introduction

1:10-2:10 – Defying Description: Tackling the Many Facets of Identity in YA

Description: As YA literature evolves, there is more of an acknowledgment of the many facets that go into a teenager’s identity, and even categories that once seemed absolute now have more nuance. Focusing particularly, but not exclusively, on LGBTQ characters and their depiction, we’ll discuss the complexities about writing about such a complex experience.

Marissa Calin
Emily Danforth
Aaron Hartzler
A.S. King
Jacqueline Woodson

moderator: David Levithan

2:10-2:40 — New Voices Spotlight

Description: Each debut author will share a five-minute reading from her or his work

J. J. Howard
Kimberly Sabatini
Tiffany Schmidt
Greg Takoudes

2:40-3:30 – Under Many Influences: Shaping Identity When You’re a Teen Girl

Description: Being a teen girl is to be under many influences – friends, parents, siblings, teachers, favorite bands, favorite boys, favorite web sites. These authors will talk about the influences that each of their main characters tap into – and then talk about what influences them as writers when they shape these characters.

Jen Calonita
Deborah Heiligman
Hilary Weisman Graham
Kody Keplinger
Amy Spalding
Katie Sise
Kathryn Williams

moderator: Terra Elan McVoy

3:30-3:40 – Break

3:40-4:20 – Born This Way: Nature, Nurture, and Paranormalcy

Description: Paranormal and supernatural fiction for teens constantly wrestles with issues of identity and the origin of identity. Whether their characters are born “different” or come into their powers over time, each of these authors uses the supernatural as a way to explore the nature of self.

Jessica Brody
Gina Damico
Maya Gold
Alexandra Monir
Lindsay Ribar
Jeri Smith-Ready
Jessica Spotswood

moderator: Adrienne Maria Vrettos

4:20-5:00 – The Next Big Thing

Description: Again, not to be too mysterious, but I will email these authors separately about what I’m thinking for this.

Leanna Renee Hieber
Barry Lyga
Emil Ostrovski
Maryrose Wood

Saturday March 23: Mutual Admiration Society reading at McNally Jackson (McNally Jackson, Prince Street, 7-8:30):

Sharon Cameron
A.S. King
Michael Northrop
Diana Peterfreund
Victoria Schwab
Nova Ren Suma

hosted by David Levithan

Sunday March 24: Our No-Foolin’ Mega-Signing at Books of Wonder (Books of Wonder, 1-4):

1-1:45:
Jessica Brody (Unremembered, Macmillan)
Marisa Calin (Between You and Me, Bloomsbury)
Jen Calonita (The Grass is Always Greener, LB)
Sharon Cameron (The Dark Unwinding, Scholastic)
Caela Carter (Me, Him, Them, and It, Bloomsbury)
Crissa Chappell (Narc, Flux)
Susane Colasanti (Keep Holding On, Penguin)
Zoraida Cordova (The Vicious Deep, Sourcebooks)
Gina Damico (Scorch, HMH)
Sarah Beth Durst (Vessel, S&S)

1:45-2:30
T. M. Goeglein (Cold Fury, Penguin)
Hilary Weisman Graham (Reunited, S&S)
Alissa Grosso (Ferocity Summer, Flux)
Aaron Hartzler (Rapture Practice, LB)
Deborah Heiligman (Intentions, RH)
Leanna Renee Hieber (The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart, Sourcebooks)
Jeff Hirsch (Magisterium, Scholastic)
J. J. Howard (That Time I Joined the Circus, Scholastic)
Alaya Johnson (The Summer Prince, Scholastic)
Beth Kephart (Small Damages, Penguin)
Kody Keplinger (A Midsummer’s Nightmare, LB)

2:30-3:15
A.S. King (Ask the Passengers, LB)
Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14, Macmillan)
David Levithan (Every Day, RH)
Barry Lyga (Yesterday Again, Scholastic)
Brian Meehl (Suck it Up and Die, RH)
Alexandra Monir (Timekeeper, RH)
Michael Northrop (Rotten, Scholastic)
Diana Peterfreund (For Darkness Shows the Stars, HC)
Lindsay Ribar (The Art of Wishing, Penguin)
Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, St. Martin’s)
Kimberly Sabatini (Touching the Surface, S&S)
Tiffany Schmidt (Send Me a Sign, Bloomsbury)

3:15-4:00
Victoria Schwab (The Archived, Hyperion)
Jeri Smith-Ready (Shine, S&S)
Amy Spalding (The Reece Malcolm List, Entangled)
Stephanie Strohm (Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, HMH)
Nova Ren Suma (17 & Gone, Penguin)
Greg Takoudes (When We Wuz Famous, Macmillan)
Mary Thompson (Wuftoom, HMH)
Jess Verdi (My Life After Now, Sourcebooks)
K.M. Walton (Empty, S&S)
Suzanne Weyn (Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters, Scholastic)
Kathryn Williams (Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, Macmillan)

Writing Challenges, Old & New

It’s amazing how different life is before and after having a baby. I often think of it as going down the rabbit hole. You enter on one side and emerge on the other in a completely different world; it looks a lot like the one you remember, but everything has changed.

As a writer, there have always been excuses and challenges to finding the time and the focus to write. There have been times when it has been incredibly frustrating, when I’ve gotten down on myself for not committing more time, or for not making progress as quickly as I’d hoped. Even when getting my MFA, it was hard to find the time. Some things have always helped: deadlines; outside pressure; knowing a reader, editor, or writing group was waiting for to read what I was working on.

As with everything, having a baby has changed all that. That I thought I didn’t have time to write before is almost laughable. There’s no room for excuses any more.

  • I am more motivated
    After having my daughter, there was suddenly a real and significant challenge to my ability to accomplish my writing goals. I feel more driven to write, because I need to be; because it would be so much easier to let it go, to let it fall to the wayside, now more than ever. The risk of not writing is higher, and so I must be that much more committed to writing.
  • I am more focused
    There is so much less time in my day. It’s amazing how a baby can completely change your perception of time. You have to take each moment as it comes and know that it will pass quickly. This is both the way things are and the only way to stay sane. A baby will not let you do a lot of things at once for very long. So as with your baby, so with your writing: you cannot get distracted, you cannot ignore what needs to be done.
  • I have less time, but get more from the time I have
    Free moments come so rarely and can be so short. When there is time, it has to be pounced on. I know the value of these free moments, so they are spent doing things I value, like writing.
  • I’ve learned to hold things lightly & take what I can get
    Sometimes the time is there, and then suddenly it isn’t. I set a goal for myself to finish a draft of my novel by the end of 2012. I wrote during my daughter’s first nap nearly every day and managed to write another 20,000 words. I am incredibly proud of myself for accomplishing that. But I didn’t meet my goal. My daughter got sick, then went through a massive growth spurt, and her naps disappeared completely for two weeks, then returned so short they were practically nonexistent. Now I’m trying to finish in time for my next writing group meeting. I don’t know if I’ll make that goal either. But I’ll keep taking the time I can, and know that I will get there eventually.
  • I know I can’t wait for the circumstances to be perfect
    One of my favorite writing quotes is this one by E.B. White: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” This is a trap I have often fallen into. But now? I barely have time, let a lone the perfect time. If I wait for the conditions to be ideal, I will wait forever and never write.

There will always be excuses not to write, and there will always be other things you need to do. But like a baby will remind you every day, there is only the present moment, and time is moving so so quickly. There’s no time for excuses, only action.